‘It’s a Wonderful Life” Festival in Seneca Falls

This weekend, the annual “It’s a Wonderful Life” Festival celebrates the connections between this upstate New York community in the Finger Lakes Region and the 1946 Frank Capra film classic, It’s A Wonderful Life. Once again, the Committee is pleased that Karolyn Grimes, who portrayed the character, Zuzu, in the film, and Carol Coombs, who played her older sister, Janie, will return to Seneca Falls in a reunion of the Bailey sisters. Joining them for the third consecutive year will be Mary Owen, youngest daughter of Donna Reed who portrayed Mary Bailey, their mother, and wife of George Bailey. This year, Monica Capra Hodges, granddaughter of Frank Capra, will mark her first visit to this community that growing numbers of people believe was the inspiration for the film’s setting of Bedford Falls, NY. The Festival officially kicks off on Friday, but on Thursday evening at 7:00 pm, the radio version of the film’s story, “Merry Christmas George Bailey,” will be given at the “Bedford Falls Bijou Theatre” at 115 Fall Street, Lower Level. Tickets are $6 and available at WomanMade Products, 91 Fall Street. A reception welcoming Hodges, Grimes, Coombs, and Owen will be held at The Gould Hotel, 108 Fall Street, from 4:00 to 5:30 pm on Friday, December 11th. The reception is free and open to the public. Friday also features the It’s A Wonderful Bonfire at People’s Park on Water Street at 7:00 pm. This year, the Calvary Church chorus is singing carols, and s’mores, hot cider and chocolate will be available to enjoy. Also during the bonfire festivities, at 7:30 pm, the Wonderful Christmas Lights contest winners will be announced, which was sponsored by Seneca Meadows. Other highlights of the weekend will be several autograph signing sessions, special presentations by Grimes, Coombs, Owen, and Hodges, and three free opportunities to watch It’s A Wonderful Life at the former Mynderse Academy, 12 N. Park Street. There will be special exhibits such as “The WAVES of World War II” and “Donna Reed, the Girl Back Home” at Women’s Right National Historical Park, 132 Fall Street. Saturday, December 12th, offers a full day of activities including free horse drawn wagon rides, interactions with the characters on the streets, crafts and vendors at Generations Bank’s “Bailey Park” tent, the George Bailey Award, 10:00 am at the IDEA Center; It’s A Wonderful Parade, 1:00 pm on Fall Street; and the It’s A Wonderful Run 5K, 4:40 pm, downtown. “A Taste of Bedford Falls,” from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at “Bailey Park,” Generations Bank tent, 19 Cayuga Street, features foods and treats from many local restaurants. There is also another performance of “Merry Christmas George Bailey” at 6:00 pm and a screening of the movie at 7:00 pm. The free “Dance by the Light of the Moon,” welcomes people all ages and abilities to have some fun dancing to the Joe Pera Band at the Community Center, beginning at 7:30 pm. The Festival continues on Sunday with other events, such as Uncle Billy’s Scavenger Hunt; George and Mary’s Amazing Race, at 11 am starting at People’s Park; more free horse drawn wagon rides downtown; and concludes with the ringing of the Bells of the Real Bedford Falls at 4:15 pm, with people gathering outside Trinity Episcopal Church, lower Fall Street. For a detailed schedule of this year’s It’s A Wonderful Life Festival events, and to learn more about the Seneca Falls/Bedford Falls connections, visit here

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